WBB drops Sweet 16 matchup to Maryland

March 29, 2008


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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — After lackluster efforts in the first two rounds, Maryland finally looked like a No. 1-seed.

Crystal Langhorne scored 28 points and Maryland’s defense swarmed Vanderbilt in a convincing 80-66 win in the Spokane Regional semifinals on Saturday night.

Two years removed from their national title, the Terrapins are one win away from a return to the Final Four. Maryland will face either Stanford or Pittsburgh in Monday night’s regional final. It will be the sixth regional championship game for the Terrapins.

And while Maryland’s offense was again a model of efficiency — shooting 51 percent and getting 14 assists on 29 baskets — it was a concerted effort at the defensive end that finally made the Terrapins look like championship contenders.

“We wanted to show our defense,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “We wanted to come out and play inspired for the first 20 minutes.”

After delivering twin boys in February, Frese stomped and yelled at her players, lauding their effort on the defensive end. The Terrapins looked very little like the team who lost in the second-round last year, then sweated through a pair of closer-than-expected games on their home court to reach the regional semis.

The Terrapins (33-3) were inspired in the first half, holding Vanderbilt to just 34.5 percent shooting and forcing nine turnovers that Maryland converted into 10 easy points, quickly getting the pace to its liking. Vanderbilt’s leading scorer Christina Wirth was held scoreless for the first 15 1/2 minutes, and only the aggressive play off the bench of Jessica Mooney kept the Commodores within 15 at halftime.

Wirth finished with 13 points and Mooney added 11 for fourth-seeded Vanderbilt.

Langhorne was nearly unstoppable in the first half, often getting set up by precision passes from point guard Kristi Toliver, who tempered her own offensive game to be more of a distributor.

“We have great guards, K.T. (Toliver) did a great job handling the ball tonight and getting the post easy touches,” said Langhorne, who made 8 of 13 shots in the first half, most inside 5-feet, as Vanderbilt failed to slow the ACC player of the year.

Maryland’s 44 first-half points were nearly what Vanderbilt allowed in its first two wins — 47 points to Montana and 46 to West Virginia.

After Vanderbilt pulled within 12 early in the second half, the Terrapins rolled off 18 of the next 26 points, capped by Langhorne’s three-point play with 11:34 left. It gave Maryland a 20-point lead and the Terps never looked back.

Marissa Coleman added 19 and Marah Strickland had 13 for the Terrapins.

Vanderbilt relied on its defense to reach the regional semifinals. Since Jan. 1, no team other than Tennessee had scored more than 62 points on the Commodores.

But Vanderbilt’s players and coaches kept saying Maryland reminded them of Tennessee, and its concerns were justified. The Commodores finished the season (25-9) and have just one senior on their roster.